Current & Upcoming Events

Oecologies: Inhabiting Premodern Worlds is a research cluster supported by The University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. Oecologies periodically hosts and participates in conferences and colloquia. If you have questions about Oecologies, please contact Alexander Cosh

Thursday 26th October 2017

“Conrad’s Earth System Poetics”

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 09.35.29

As part of the STS 2017-18 colloquium series at UBC, Jesse Oak Taylor will speak on “Conrad’s Earth System Poetics.” The talk situates Conrad’s writing, particularly his sea-writing, in the context of the emergence of the Anthropocene, thinking about literary history in the context of planetary dynamics and thus exploring what a literary/historical version of Earth system science might look like. The talk is cosponsored by the UBC Department of English and the Oecologies group.


The talk will be held on Thursday October 26th at 5pm in Buchanan Tower 1197 as part of UBC’s Science and Technology Studies (STS) Colloquium.

JOT poster 4

19-27 October 2017

PNRS Conference, Portland, OR

“Oecologies: A Roundtable” 

 Organizer: Vin Nardizzi

Participants: Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, “The Love of Life”

Sarah Crover, “Distemperature”

Louisa Mackenzie, “Sustainability”

David K. Coley, “Failure”

J. Allan Mitchell, “Disorientation Devices”

 Respondent: Tiffany Jo Werth


4 – 7 January 2018

Modern Language Association, New York, NY

1) Performance, Materiality, and Ecology in Early Modern Literature Roundtable

Participants: Rebecca Bushnell, University of Pennsylvania

Karen Raber, University of Mississippi

Jessica Rosenberg, University of Miami

Tiffany Jo Werth, University of California, Davis

Presider: Joseph Campana, Rice University

Roundtable description: Prodigious pies, an island full of unruly noise, jumpy alchemical elements, vocal trees, and chatty marble stones present us with a sampling of more-than-human entities who jostle for attention within early modern texts. They challenge any conception of a quiescent material realm. Their “vital materialism” (to use the phrase of contemporary theorist Jane Bennett) suggests that matter could be—and was—a forceful “actant” in human experience. This session diverges from much current theoretical interest in the quality of “agency” and “actants” within ontological hierarchies to instead consider “performance” as a paramount factor in the generation of identity. Our roundtable participants showcase how repetition, the process of carrying out an action, even the disruption of movement, might claim the stage or the page, demanding that we rethink the relationship of human will and matter’s intention. How do the formal, generic, and ontological demands of early modern performance transform or inform the understandings of agency that have emerged from contemporary materialist theories?    Each panelist explores how different categories of matter perform, taking the discussion from the elements, to the mineral, the vegetal, and, finally, the human as outperformed by one of its parts.  The session thus brings ecocriticism into conversation with performance studies to offer innovative ways of rethinking the relationship between form, movement, and ontology within Renaissance literature. Together these four papers push back the historiographical narrative of pre- and post- within what we have come to call the Anthropocene to suggest how things, objects, forces, elements, and relations, operate quite indifferently to human desire.


2) Early Modern Biopolitics: Race, Nature, Sexuality

Participants: Urvashi Chakravarty, George Mason University

Drew Daniel, Johns Hopkins University

Ari Friedlander, University of Mississippi

Greta LaFleur, Yale University

Adam Sitze, Amherst College

Valerie J. Traub, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Presider: Vin Nardizzi, University of British Columbia

This session explores the utility of biopolitics to early modern English and to early American literatures, leveraging early modern culture to retrace the genealogy of biopolitics. Topics include sixteenth-century Atlantic slavery, Restoration-era conceptions of sovereignty and race, seventeenth-century sexuality and population theory, early American racial theories of Protestant lineage, and pan-European early modern cartography.


3) Critical Semantics: New Transcultural Keywords

Sponsoring Entity: CLCS Renaissance and Early Modern


1. Common, Crystal Lynn Bartolovich, Syracuse University

2. Color, John Casey, Brown University

3. Grafting, Vin Nardizzi, University of British Columbia

4. Utopian, Debapriya Sarkar, University of Connecticut, Storrs

Respondent: Roland Greene, Stanford University

Presider: Anston Bosman, Amherst College



22 – 25 March 2018

Renaissance Society of America, New Orleans, LA

1) Dreams in Stone: The Early Modern Lithic Imaginary I

Organizers: Lyle Massey, University of California, Irvine
Bronwen Wilson, University of California, Los Angeles
Chair: Lyle Massey, University of California, Irvine

Lithic After Life and the New Jerusalem
Tiffany J. Werth, University of California, Davis;

Taddeo’s Dream: Illusion, Delusion, and Images on Stone
Carla Benzan, University College London;

Stone Matters: Sandro Botticelli and His Drawings for Dante’s Inferno
Bronwen Wilson, University of California, Los Angeles;


2) Dreams in Stone: The Early Modern Lithic Imaginary II

Organizers: Lyle Massey, University of California, Irvine
Bronwen Wilson, University of California, Los Angeles
Chair: Tiffany J. Werth, University of California, Davis

Stone, Water, Lizard: Bellini’s Ascetic Desert 
Lyle Massey, University of California, Irvine;

Geomedia in Early Modern Normandy 
Phillip John Usher, New York University;

The Liquidity of Sand
Amy Knight Powell, University of California, Irvine.


3) Roundtable: Premodern Plants

Saturday, March 24, 9:00 to 10:30am, Hilton New Orleans Riverside, 1, 1st Floor – Grand Ballroom A

Sponsor: Associate Organization/Pacific Northwest Renaissance Society

Chair: Vin Nardizzi, University of British Columbia

Discussants: Antónia Szabari, University of Southern California
Jessica Rosenberg, University of Miami
Tom White, University of London
Natania Meeker, University of Southern California
Lara Farina, University of West Virginia

Abstract: This roundtable elaborates the methods of critical plant studies in medieval and Renaissance literature and culture. RSA members unfamiliar with critical plant studies might imagine it as a successor to critical animal studies. But as Michael Marder outlines, critical plant studies begins with the reversal of Aristotelian taxonomy, taking seriously those plant characteristics of sessility and mute growth that Western philosophy all too quickly dismisses as “vegetative soul.” Marder’s philosophy is tendentious and can be utopian in its politics; it is also intellectually liberating insofar as it defies plant blindness with new questions about vegetal life. We thus consider such methods a provocation to explore how contemplation of the plant, from recent scientific controversies about its intelligence and genetic modification to its literary status as a symbol for growth and continuance, can alter our received histories of both the human and the ecological in medieval and Renaissance literary studies.

4) Roundtable: Eco-philology: Early Modern Environmental Words and World

Thursday, March 22, 9:00 to 10:30am, Harrah’s New Orleans Hotel, Vieux Carré Salon I

Sponsor: RSA Annual Meeting

Organizers: Pauline Goul, Cornell University
Stephanie Shirilan, Syracuse University

Chair: Roland Greene, Stanford University

Discussants: Louisa Mackenzie, University of Washington, Seattle
Vin Nardizzi, University of British Columbia
Marjorie Rubright, University of Toronto
Debapriya Sarkar, University of Connecticut
Phillip John Usher, New York University

Abstract: The participants in this roundtable have been inspired by recent ecomaterialist research to consider anew the ways that Renaissance ideas of the human, nation, self, sex, state, etc., were constituted in and through environmental experience. We likewise share a sense that language has been underutilized as a resource for such investigations, even across literary traditions, such as French and English. Each of us will present a 5-7 minute paper that submits a word of particular ecocritical significance to an ecomaterialist inquiry that follows the turn towards what Roland Greene describes as “critical semantics,” exploring the ecological imbrication and dynamism of semantic change. What new information and insight can a consideration of these words’ history, evolution, and early modern uses bring to modern ecocriticism?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s